Society for Suppression of Vice  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
New York Society for the Suppression of Vice

The Society for the Suppression of Vice was an eighteenth-century English society established by King George III's Proclamation For the Encouragement of Piety and Virtue in 1787. Officially becoming the Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1802, the society was founded at the suggestion of William Wilberforce, better known for his involvement in the abolition of the U.K. slave trade, who then headed the society's operations. The society is not to be confused with its nineteenth- and twentieth-century namesake, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.

M.J.D. Roberts writes that the Jacobin ideas, from the French Revolution, raised fears of atheism, which led establishment people to set up organisations like the Society for the Suppression of Vice, to campaign for tough application of the law against indiscipline by the radicals. One who suffered from the attentions of the Society for the Suppression of Vice was the campaigner for free speech, Richard Carlile.

The "News Ltd" website remarks on the role of the SSV in enforcing the stamp duty on newspapers. The campaign to abolish the stamp duty was led by the radical press. Other more establishment figures like Lord Brougham, the Lord Chancellor, 1834, also argued against it. The stamp duty was reduced to 1d in 1836 and abolished in 1855.

The Obscene Publications Act was introduced in September 1857 (superseding the 1787 Proclamation). One effect of the Act was to forbid the distribution of information about contraception and human biology to the working classes.

The Society for the Suppression of Vice was still in operation in the 1870s. It was the means of suppressing "low and vicious periodicals", and of bringing the dealers to punishment, by imprisonment, hard labor and fines. The article reproduced on the Victorian London site records a list of items seized and destroyed. This included "large quantities of infidel and blasphemous publications."

The Society for the Suppression of Vice was merged with the National Vigilance Association, in August 1885.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Society for Suppression of Vice" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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